Our Homeschool Day – Joyful Learning
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
Today, I’m going to tell you about our homeschool day, as it relates to traditional schooling and joyful learning. This whole homeschooling thing can be so much fun. I’m realizing that it is most fun when I let go and think of homeschooling less in terms of traditional school and more in terms of joyful learning.
This morning, our homeschool day started when Leo woke up and quickly completed his EPGY math and language arts and piano practice, so that he could devote the remainder of the day to Christmas crafts and writing in his journal. I was thinking to myself that he’d already covered math, language arts, music, arts, and writing right there. Plus, he’s been watching the guys working on our house all morning- so he’s had a little STEM thrown in too. It’s the week before winter break and I’ve worked in schools. This week is a high energy, low output week. I figured he’d already accomplished more than he would have all day in a first grade classroom the week before Christmas, and it was only 9 am.
Leo asked if we could make our Grinchy-Dough today for the Christmas craft. We make homemade play dough every year. We add green food coloring, sparkles, and peppermint extract and call it Grinchy-Dough. He added, “Can I do the whole thing this year? Can I teach T and Seuss how to make it? And can I write about it on my blog?” I know I’ve asked this before on here but, seriously folks:
Who is the teacher in this relationship??
Leo proceeded to start a blog post about our beloved Grinchy-Dough. He introduced himself, wrote a little bit about the dough, copied the recipe and instructions into the post, and then checked it for accuracy. Right there we have: reading, technology, typing, writing, sequencing, organization, and self-monitoring.
Leo read the recipe aloud and identified all necessary materials and tools, and I helped him to gather them. He then called the kids to the kitchen where he had set up chairs for everyone. His plan was to make two batches. He would go through the recipe and instructions step-by-step. First, he would demonstrate a step for T and Seuss while they watched, and then he would assist them to perform the same step with their batch of play dough. This required that he double the recipe, and that he find a way to divide each step into two equal parts for T and Seuss. He did this math and problem solving independently.
Folks, he basically ran a class on play dough making before my eyes. He was independent, he was mature, he was poised, he was engaging, he solved problems, he was attentive, he fielded questions, he was polite, he was slow and careful.
He was the teacher.
If the recipe called for one cup of something, like salt, Leo would demonstrate how to do it using the one cup measure but then, when it was time for T and Seuss to do their step, he would get out the 1/2 cup measure and let T do one half and Seuss the other. Math, problem solving, teaching,planning, flexible thinking, conflict resolution.
When it came time to add the four teaspoons of cream of tartar, the teaspoon wouldn’t fit into the jar and he quickly said, “Oh! We’ll just have to use the 1/2 teaspoon eight times. So that means T will do four and Seuss will do four.” Math, problem solving, flexibility.
The entire time he was teaching, he was also thinking about what he would need for his blog later. He’d stop to take photographs, or pause to ask me to take a photo of a particular step. Planning, photography.
When it came time to heat the dough on the stove, my little worrier told his students that he would combine both batches and let them watch as he stirred it over low heat. Leo explained to his watchful students that heating the dough would change it from a liquid to a solid and that stirring the dough would prevent it from burning and enable it to heat faster. Safety, cooking, science, teaching.
One thing that the little teacher does need to work on, folks, is patience. He did complain that this step was taking far too long for his liking. At one point, I agreed to take over the job of stirring for a bit so that he could jot down a few notes in his journal. Self-control, project management, relaxation, writing.
I continued to stir for a few additional minutes while he serenaded us with Christmas music. Reading, singing.
He added the glitter, peppermint extract, and food coloring and asked me to take video of him narrating the process. Teaching, planning, oral presentation, directing, videography.
When complete, Leo took several photographs of the finished product before deciding on his favorite. Photography, planning, decision making.
Then, I guess we could say it was time for recess. My little poppies played with that Grinchy-Dough for hours before cleaning it up themselves. They were so proud of their independence today but no one was more proud than their mama! Play, creativity, STEAM, fun, responsibility, cooperation, life skills.
After a quick snack, Leo finished up his blog post. By this point he was tired and, toward the end, he asked for help with typing. He stood beside me and dictated, reread his post, made revisions, and was done. Writing, typing, technology, patience, oral presentation, planning, editing.
When the post was complete, the kids went up to the room where they snuggled while Leo read several Christmas stories aloud. Reading, relaxation, friendship, love.
I felt so inspired by our day that I decided to write this quick post. Just now, as I’m wrapping it up, the kids came back downstairs and – I kid you not- Leo came down with materials to make a pillow for his rocking chair. Planning, creativity, sewing, fine motor, precision, home economics, patience.
And, I was just about to click “post” when THIS happened:
Our day was filled with play dough making and play, construction, Christmas music, sewing, and dancing. It certainly did not resemble school in the traditional sense and yet I would argue that it was filled to the brim with joyful learning.
While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram